It’s the first day of the New Year, a time to anticipate another 364 days of stitching. If knitting, crocheting, sewing or quilting are on your list of things you want to learn, there’s no time like the present to jump right in there get started. Check with your local library or yarn shop for information about knitting groups and how to join. Check with the Pine Tree Quilters Guild at mainequilts.org to learn where local quilting groups meet and the contact person. Such groups are welcoming and willing to offer assistance to those just getting started.
Or call a friend or two who want to learn to stitch and start your own group.
As for me, I will keep to what I know and not veer off into learning a new craft. The reason for that is simple — my house is small and I simply don’t have any more room for storing the tools and supplies a new craft would demand. And that’s OK by me because I am most happy with the many kinds of stitching I already enjoy.
There is something satisfying about staying focused on what I already know how do — more, different or new isn’t necessarily always better, or indeed desirable. It’s good to be content with the skills one already knows, to ply them with contentment and take pride in doing so.
There are always new techniques to learn, however, such as Tunisian crochet, which my mother’s friend, Lee, used to do, though she called it “the afghan stitch.” Itrequires a long hook to pick up loops all across the row of work, then work them off one by one. She spent years crocheting an afghan using the technique, a project she always referred to as “my shroud.”
Knitting, too, offers many techniques, fancy stitches and colorwork should one want to bolster one’s knowledge of cables, working with more than one color or putting finishing touches on a knitted piece. One need look no further than a local knitting shop, adult education program or library knitting group to find kindred souls willing to share knowledge, ideas and patterns.
One way to try something new if the spirit moves in that direction is to work with a different kind of yarn, such as angora, mohair, alpaca, linen or silk; yarn that is very thick or very fine; yarn that is a blend of fibers; or novelty yarns that give furry effects or glitter in the light. Or splurge and buy a skein of cashmere and knit yourself a scarf.
Experimenting with new colors also is good way to rekindle the knitting and crocheting fires. Instead of sticking to the blue shades you love, try a few skeins of something red. Never worked with ombre yarns? Give that a try.
Switching from a focus on large projects such as sweaters to small projects such as baby caps or mittens — or vice versa — can enliven the knitting menu, too.
Those who sew might want to depart from making quilts or garments using commercial patterns and spend time coming up with an original design.
Resolve to keep a sketchbook of ideas for projects, make drawings, jot down color ideas, staple fabric swatches to the pages or glue in images of projects to serve as a source of inspiration.
But most of all, resolve to keep making things by hand.
Kathleen Hartley is an art teacher at Bangor High School who does knitting and other fiber arts with her students each year. School budgets are tight — so she and her students are hoping that area stitchers might donate knitting needles, size 7 and up, any type; yarns heavier than worsted weight; and embroidery hoops. To donate any of those items or for information, email Kathleen at email@example.com.
The annual St. Distaff’s Day Spin, Knit and Stitch-In will convene 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, at the Page Farm and Home Museum, University of Maine. Bring a project in progress, odd balls of yarn you’d like to exchange, show-and-tell items, etc. Fiber producers and processors are invited to bring skeins or bats to offer for purchase.
Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to visit her blog at byhand.bangordailynews.com.